Charlie Munger, the 97-year-old business partner of Warren Buffett warned the current market is crazier than the dot-com bubble. The billionaire has criticized cryptocurrencies and praised China’s crackdown on digital currencies at the Sohn Hearts & Minds Conference this month.
The billionaire investor is also the vice-chairman of Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway conglomerate. Munger explained that it’s become hard to find bargain stocks these days and suggested Costco could be a fierce competitor to Amazon in online retail. He also argued that the overconfidence of Elon Musk has been critical to his success.
Here are Charlie Munger’s 14 best quotes from the virtual interview. The quotes are slightly edited for clarity and were first published by Sohn, The Australian, and The Australian Financial Review:
- “The dot-com boom was crazier in terms of valuations than even what we have now. But overall, I consider this era even crazier than the dot-com era.”
- “I just can’t stand participating in these insane booms. Everybody wants to pile in, and I have a different attitude. I want to make my money by selling people things that are good for them, not things that are bad for them.”
- “It’s getting very difficult, because we have a vast increase in the intellectual horsepower that’s trying to get rich by owning securities. They’ve bid the good businesses up and up and up. The great companies come at a high price.”
- “There’s no great company that can’t be turned into a bad investment just by raising the price.”
- “I’m never going to buy a cryptocurrency. I wish they’d never been invented.” – Munger has been a vocal critic of crypto for years.
- “Believe me, the people who are getting in cryptocurrencies are not thinking about the customer, they’re thinking about themselves. Just look at them. I wouldn’t want any one of them to marry into my family.”
- “The Chinese made the correct decision, which is to simply ban crypto. They’re right to step hard on booms and to not let them go too far. To the extent that my country doesn’t do that, we’re inferior to China.”
- “I don’t think we’re that smart, I don’t think we’re that diligent. We’ve had more success than our smartness and diligence would normally cause. I attribute that to the fact that we’re better than most people at knowing what we know and what we don’t know.” – reflecting on why he and Buffett have excelled at investing.
- “Amazon may have more to fear from Costco in terms of retailing than the reverse. Costco will eventually be a huge internet player. People trust it and it has enormous purchasing power.” – Munger is a director and longtime fan of the big-box retailer.
- “He’s worked very hard, he’s somewhat fanatical, and of course he’s had a remarkable result. He wouldn’t have been so successful if there hadn’t been an internet wave for him to ride. But there was an internet wave and when he saw it, he got aboard, he threw aside everything else in his life, and just headed for the top of that wave. He’s been surfing ever since.” – on Amazon founder Jeff Bezos.
- “He thinks he’s even more able than he is and that’s helped him. Never underestimate the man who overestimates himself. Some of the extreme successes are going to come from people who try very extreme things because they’re overconfident. And when they succeed, well, there you get Elon Musk.” – on the Tesla and SpaceX CEO.
- “Over 100 years, I don’t trust any currency issued in the whole world. It’s natural to reduce the purchasing power of currency. If you’re a government, the best you can hope for is the inflation will be slow.”
- “I don’t know what they’re like in Australia, but here they’re very peculiar: very self-centered and very leftist.” – on millennials.
- “Saving the hydrocarbons for future generations, instead of blowing them all in one big blast, is a very smart thing to do, even if there were no global warming. I love the fact we’re rapidly reducing the burning of coal and the burning of gasoline and diesel … and replacing them with electricity from renewable sources.”